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Arkansas' Next Head Coach Tracker - 9.24.2012

Andy Lyons - Getty Images

You've heard of Heisman trackers? Welcome to the Next Head Coach Tracker! Is there much else to look forward to right now than the coaching hire? This is the third week we're running this, and I added a few names that people let me know should have been included. So it's more thorough now. Of course, as with most coaching searches, we have no idea who's actually on Jeff Long's list and the next coach could very well be someone completely out of left field.


  • L.: Lost to Rutgers. Yep, Rutgers. Gut Feeling: 0% Forget about next year. Can he survive this year?
  • Paul Petrino: Well, Cobi Hamilton set an SEC record! But Arkansas still only scored 26 points. And the offense was nonexistent in the second quarter. Gut Feeling: 0% Good luck to you, Paul.


  • James Franklin, Vanderbilt: Blown out by Georgia. Gut: 20%. Maybe James Franklin actually does want to stay at Vanderbilt, or maybe the players are sucking to try to keep him there. Either way, if Vanderbilt doesn't start winning soon, Franklin's not going to go anywhere.
  • Dana Holgorsen, West Virginia: Beat Maryland by 10 Gut: 4% Holgorsen is the type of coach in the type of program that isn't going to leave for a program that's not bowl eligible.
  • Charlie Strong, Louisville: Beat Florida International on the road by a touchdown. Gut: 40%. If you go down the checklist for what Arkansas would want in a coach, Strong connects with virtually everything if Louisville can win the Big East this year. The only thing he doesn't do, at least so far, is excite the Arkansas fan base. The way the Razorbacks are going, they need to be excited by someone. Fans should definitely keep an eye on him throughout the season.
  • Chris Peterson, Boise State: Defeated BYU 7-6. Gut: 0.1% Saw a tweet from a guy during this game after the Broncos failed to convert a fake punt that said "he's off the list now!" Right, like Arkansas wouldn't take him because of one failed play. This is the type of mentality that needs to be avoided. Arkansas would be incredibly lucky to land Petersen, but he's not leaving. And one mistake during the season doesn't diminish all of his other, very impressive, accomplishments. Arkansas will not hire a coach who is perfect this season because they don't exist.
  • Steve Sarkisian, Washington: Coming off a bye week. Next three games are against Stanford, Oregon, and USC. Gut: 2% Will be interesting to see if they survive the murderer's row portion of their schedule.
  • Gus Malzahn, Arkansas State: Shut out Alcorn State. Gut: 8% He'll always be mentioned as a candidate for the Razorbacks until he either retires, career goes South, or actually becomes the head coach. He's still a divisive figure in the state and it's hard to see him at the top of Long's list, but he could be on it toward the bottom.
  • Gary Patterson, TCU: Defeated Virginia. Gut: 1% Among the guys who almost definitely aren't leaving for Arkansas, Patterson's name gets popped up the most. Someone explain why he would leave? If you don't leave a program when they're in the MWC, why would you leave a year into their Big 12 era?
  • Dave Doeren, Northern Illinois: Defeated Kansas by a touchdown. Gut: 3% He doesn't have a ton of experience as a head coach and since no one in the Arkansas fan base knows who he is, is unlikely to be at the top of Long's list since Long really needs to hire a name to get fans excited.
  • Art Briles, Baylor: Beat Louisiana-Monroe. Gut: 7% Really interested to watch what happens to Baylor when they get into their Big 12 schedule.
  • Dabo Swinney, Clemson: Lost to Florida State. Gut: 0.1% Why? Why would he leave Clemson? Whenever I see this name pop up on the message boards, it just doesn't make any sense to me. They won the ACC last year and has them back around the top 10 again. I have a hard time seeing him leave for Arkansas
  • Garrick McGee, UAB: Lost to Ohio State. Gut: 6% It would have been really interesting to see what would have happened with McGee's name if UAB had pulled off the upset over the Buckeyes. UAB missed a field goal that would have cut the lead to 3 points in the fourth quarter.
  • Mark Hudspeth, Lousiana-Lafayette: Coming off bye week. Gut: 8% Most fans don't know much about him so here's a summary: In eight seasons as a head coach at North Alabama and ULL, he's had six winning seasons, winning 10+ games five times. Last season, his first at ULL, he took the Ragin' Cajuns to their first bowl game in 41 years and posted a 9-4 overall record. He's from Mississippi, has spent 3 total years on the UCA staff in the 90s, and spent two years on Dan Mullen's staff at Mississippi State between his gigs at North Alabama and ULL. His overall coaching record is 77-26. Honestly, that's a pretty sharp resume. Doubt he'll excite many Razorback fans, but that's a sharp resume.

  • Mario Cristobal, Florida International: Lost to Louisville. Gut: 1% This name pops up on a lot of other coaching lists, but with a 1-3 start, it's not likely to stay there. And it's not like FIU has been playing cupcake games either.


  • Jon Gruden, ABC: Getting paid a crap-ton of money to watch and talk about an NFL game tonight. Gut: 0.1% This probably had a better chance in April than it does right now. Arkansas was appealing in April. Why he'd turn down his TV gig to rebuild this ship is beyond me.

  • Pete Carroll, Seattle Seahawks: Playing the Packers tonight in Monday Night Football. Gut: 3%: He does have a connection to Arkansas, having served as an assistant on the staff many years ago. But considering all the NCAA violations incurred under him at USC, and some still being investigated, seems like you'd want someone a little more clean-shaven to come clean up the Petrino mess. He would be an immediate home run in the press, however.
  • Kirby Smart, Defensive Coordinator, Alabama: Defense finally allowed a touchdown against Florida Atlantic. Gut: 17% He very well could take a head coaching job next year. The question is whether or not Long will go for a coordinator without head coaching experience. I'd feel better about Smart if Saban's coaching tree produced a lot of winners, but it hasn't so far.
  • Manny Diaz, Defensive Coordinator, Texas: Coming off a bye week. Gut: 10% He's definitely an up-and-comer who has head coach written all over day. Diaz is very young, and only has 3 years of coordinating on a BCS level. Is he too young for Long?
  • Butch Davis, Consultant, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Former head coach at, among others, North Carolina and Miami: Was cleared of any wrongdoing through his phone records in the scandals at North Carolina. Gut: 15% The Arkansas native has been rumored as a possible coach several times in his career. Probably would've been the favorite to replace Houston Nutt if Nutt had been fired before 2007. Davis has had success at his previous stops and some in Northwest Arkansas haven't wavered in his support through the yeras.
  • Jim Leavitt, Linebackers Coach, San Francisco 49ers: Lost to Minnesota. Gut: 1%Was fired from South Florida for striking a player at halftime then lying about it. I'm sure that's exactly what Long is looking for in his next coach. He did basically build the South Florida program, however.
  • Bear Bryant: Former Head Coach: Kentucky, Texas A&M, Alabama: Winning national titles in heaven. Gut: 1% Is an Arkansas native, but reportedly still dead. Not sure Arkansas can afford the buyout.


Doc Harper is the editor of and is a regular contributor to You can email him at and follow him on Twitter@doc_harper.